National Grid today marked the completion of its new, one-megawatt solar generation facility in Whitinsville, Mass. -- the largest solar site in the state -- with a celebratory event and ribbon-cutting ceremony at the company’s New England Distribution Center warehouse, where the roof-top solar system is housed. Massachusetts’ Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray; Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Ian Bowles; DOER Commissioner, Phil Giudice; and local community representatives were on hand to congratulate National Grid and the company’s local solar contractors on the accomplishment.

National Grid’s Whitinsville solar site also is the first utility-owned solar generation facility in service under the Commonwealth’s 2008 Green Communities Act, which allows utilities to own up to 50 megawatts of solar generation.

In October 2009, National Grid announced that it had approval from the Mass. Department of Public Utilities to design, build and operate five utility-owned solar generation facilities that would yield approximately 5 megawatts of power. The Whitinsville facility is the first in service; work on the other locations throughout the state is under way and in varying stages of development.

“Completion of this facility is yet another major milestone in helping to advance policy objectives across the Commonwealth, develop a greener local economy and use more clean energy in our day-to-day lives. The project supports the solar industry both in materials and in construction jobs within the state,” said Ed White, vice president, Energy Products for National Grid. “We applaud the Patrick-Murray administration and the legislature for supporting programs such as this. We are proud to be the first utility to add more renewables to the New England energy mix and take tangible action to help mitigate climate change.” White added, “And we’re not stopping here: We have another four solar projects on the way in the coming months.”

“As Governor Patrick and our administration continue to make strategic investments to support innovation, job creation, and the state’s long-term economic growth, we are also investing in a clean, green, and healthy future for our Commonwealth,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. “The Green Communities Act supports our efforts to encourage the use of clean technologies, and our administration applauds National Grid’s leadership by installing the first utility-owned solar generation facility in the state.”

Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles said, “I congratulate National Grid on this impressive solar installation – the largest in the state, and the first to be owned by an electric utility under the Green Communities Act. This solar array consists of Massachusetts-made solar panels, installed by Massachusetts firms and workers, generating clean, renewable energy for Massachusetts consumers for years to come. This is what our clean energy future looks like.”

The company’s solar system, which was built on time and under budget, is expected to cost less than $6.5 million. The company anticipates that the Whitinsville project will cost an average residential Massachusetts customer approximately a penny per month over the 20-year life of the project.

Whitinsville Solar System By The Numbers
  • 4,683 solar panels, each rated at 210 watts, are housed on the roof of National Grid’s New England Distribution Center, covering approximately two acres.
  • Each panel weighs 41 lbs and measures 65" x 37.5" x 1.8". The panels can withstand the impact of a hailstone traveling at a velocity of up to 52 mph.
  • If all panels were laid end-to-end, they would stretch nearly 5 miles.
  • There are 114 cells on each solar panel; a total of 533,862 solar cells in the roof-top array.
  • The system is capable of generating 983,430 kilowatts of electricity and it is estimated to produce approximately 1,148,560 kilowatt-hours per year. That’s enough to serve nearly 200 homes annually.
  • The solar generation system will reduce approximately 1.3 million lbs. of carbon each year, the equivalent of annually removing more than 400 passenger cars from the road; eliminating the CO2 emissions from burning 11.4 railcars of coal; and reducing the CO2 emissions from burning nearly 5,000 barrels of oil.

National Grid’s Whitinsville project employed many local contractors. The company estimates that more than 50 green jobs were provided in the Commonwealth under this renewable energy project.

“Projects such as this take skilled and talented hands that have working knowledge of cutting-edge technologies. Without our many and varied local solar experts, this accomplishment would have been much more challenging,” White said. “Kudos to the solar marketplace who helped us bring in the sunshine and deliver its clean power to our customers.”

The project’s solar panels were manufactured by Evergreen Solar of Marlborough, Mass. Nexamp, North Andover, Mass., served as general contractor. The system’s inverters were manufactured by SMA America, of Rockland Calif. Lynnwell Associates Inc., Boston -- comprised of IBEW locals 96 and 103 -- performed the project’s electrical installations as Nexamp’s subcontractor. Lidco Electrical Contractors, Holden, Mass., provided the electrical modifications to the NEDC building to facilitate installation. Zapotec Energy, Cambridge, provided design and installation oversight for the system.

The company’s additional solar sites in development include installations in Dorchester, Everett, Haverhill, and Revere. The company’s local contractors for various aspects of the upcoming projects also include Innovative Engineering Solutions, Walpole; Solar Design Associates, Harvard; American Capital Energy, North Chelmsford; and Fischbach & Moore Electrical Group, LLC, Boston.

National Grid is an international energy delivery company. In the U.S., National Grid delivers electricity to approximately 3.3 million customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island, and manages the electricity network on Long Island under an agreement with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA). It is the largest distributor of natural gas in the northeastern U.S., serving approximately 3.4 million customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island. National Grid also owns over 4,000 megawatts of contracted electricity generation that provides power to over one million LIPA customers.

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